April 22 (UPI) — Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower went dark at midnight Sunday to honor those who died in the Easter bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
A post on the landmark’s Twitter account explained “I will turn my lights off to pay tribute.”
Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency Monday after suicide bomb attacks killed nearly 300 people and injured hundreds more.
Sri Lankan authorities said two dozen people have been arrested, and they identified local Islamist militant group National Thowheed Jamath as responsible for the blasts. The coordinated attacks involved nine bomb blasts at four churches and three hotels. One occurred at Colombo’s St. Sebastian Church, as more than 1,000 worshipers attended Easter services.
Operators of the Eiffel Tower often use the landmark’s lights as a symbol of tribute. The tower went dark in May 2017, after an explosion at a Manchester, England, concert killed 22 people. The lights also were turned off in January 2015 an attack on the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, and in November 2015 to honor over 200 people killed at six locations around Paris in terrorist attacks.
The attacks in Sri Lanka were the focus of many Easter sermons around the world, as information was revealed about the scope of the casualties.
“My prayers go out to all those impacted by these despicable acts of violence,” said Allen H. Vigneron, the archbishop of Detroit. “There is a universal bond between us here in the Detroit archdiocese and those Sri Lankan Catholics who were in church celebrating the holiest, most significant date on the Christian calendar — Easter. May the Risen Christ embrace those killed, heal their families and the survivors, and help make the world one of tolerance and acceptance.”
World leaders also offered encouragement, including Secretary General Helga Schmid of the European External Action Service, a branch of the European Commission, and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
“The United States and the European Union stand together in sharing our deepest condolences and support for the families and friends of the victims of today’s terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka,” they said in a joint statement Sunday.
“Everyone should be free to practice their own faith without fear. The European Union and the United States jointly support Sri Lankans and all those who desire to peacefully live their lives according to their beliefs.”